Oh, serums. How you confuse thee.
One of the most popular questions we get from people trying to get their skincare routines on, and poppin' is "what is a serum?" The second is, "do I need it?" The answer to the second question is, it depends. The answer to the first is a little more complicated.
So, What is a Serum?
A serum is a lightweight, concentrated, skincare product used after cleansing and toning and before your moisturizer. In general, serums are made with ingredients the can penetrate deeply into the outer layers of the skin to deliver an active, nourishing concentration of components to treat specific skincare concerns. Serums have smaller molecules than those found in your moisturizer and work to help correct such concerns as hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, uneven tone and texture, sallowness, loss of firmness and more. If you look at most skincare lines and regimens, the most expensive item in that line is often the serum. That's because, in theory, this is the product with the highest concentration of active ingredients.
Can a Serum Be Oil Based?
"Generally no. Serums are designed for deeper penetration of ingredients. Although oil can be incredibly nourishing and beneficial for the skin, when formulated with an oil base the oil molecules have a hard time delivering the concentrated ingredients." - licensed esthetician and skin care expert, Melissa Lekus.
At What Age Should You Incorporate a Serum Into Your Skincare Routine?
According to Lekus, "adding a serum is less about age and more about compliance. I recommend introducing a serum whenever you are comfortable having multiple steps in your skincare routine." We agree with Melissa and will add that you should introduce a serum into your routine the moment you realize your skin isn't responding as well to just your basic moisturizer. For some folks, the first thing they may notice is the skin might lack radiance or moisture.
What's the Type of Serum You Should Start Using if You've Never Used a Serum Before?
Melissa Lekus says, "the first type of serum I recommend introducing to a routine, that works on prevention and improvement, would be Vitamin C. It is beneficial for all skin types and conditions, from teen skin to very mature skin." We also recommend a serum that boosts moisture. Serums with hyaluronic acid are great to give you a shot of moisture and help plump up the skin.
Since we now know what a serum is -- let’s share some ingredients that have been clinically proven to treat issues such as, hyperpigmentation, fine line, wrinkles, uneven texture, and dull skin.
Is hyperpigmentation your problem?
Many ingredients can help with the fading of dark spots. Some include hydroquinone, arbutin, licorice, Kojic Acid and more.
Serums for Hyperpigmentation:
SkinCeuticals Phyto Plus ($86)
Are fine lines, wrinkles and uneven texture your primary concern?
Look for serums that provide gentle exfoliation and a moisture boost. Ingredients such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, malic acid, mandelic acid, and retinol help to even out skin texture by providing gentle daily exfoliation. Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, peptides nourish and moisturize skin to plump skin and give it a more youthful appearance.
Serums for Fine Lines, Wrinkles and Uneven Texture:
Are You After That Goddess Glow?
Exfoliation and moisture are the keys. So, the serums from the section above (fine lines and wrinkles) are a big help. In addition, serums containing ingredients like Vitamin C and Niacinamide, will give you the boost to set off your gorgeous glow.